Knesset Panel Backs Establishment of Arabic Language Academy

Initiative author: It is Israel's duty to preserve Arabic; all 11 MKs present at committee meeting vote in favor.

Yoav Stern
Haaretz Correspondent
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Yoav Stern
Haaretz Correspondent

The Knesset Education Committee expressed its support on Monday of a proposal to establish an academy of the Arabic language in Israel.

All eleven of the MKs that were present at the committee meeting voted in favor of the proposal, including representatives from Yisrael Beiteinu and Kadima.

The proposal is sponsored by the Citizens' Accord Forum, an organization dedicated to normalizing relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel, headed by MK Rabbi Michael Melchior (Labor). The proposal outlines an annual budget to be allotted for the preservation and research of the Arabic language.

The author of the initiative, Dr. Yitzhak Reiter, said that alongside the Hebrew Academy, there are also academies in Israel for the preservation of Yiddish and Ladino, and it is Israel's duty to create a similar body to advance the Arabic language. He explained that it is inconceivable that though Arabic is recognized as one of Israel's official languages, it is not afforded the same goodwill, or the same financial support that Yiddish and Ladino are given.

MK Raleb Majadele (Labor) reminded the committee at Monday's meeting that he had drafted a similar bill several years ago, but it was eventually dropped due to a shortage of funds. He stressed that though the Education Committee supports the draft, it does not necessarily mean that the initiative will be realized.

The Academy is meant to, among other things, address the problem of the growing use of Hebrew among Arab youth, which is creating a hybrid dialect and lowering the level of the Arabic spoken by the Arab community as a whole. The objective of the Academy would be to encourage a separation between the two languages.

Academies of the Arabic language have existed in numerous Arab nations for many years.

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